There's an art to being a guest in someone's home. If you are one who enjoys travel and visiting distant friends and relatives you'll discover that in order to gain access to a person's home you either need to be a blood relative where you host feel obligated to open their home to you. Or you need to be the type of person who people love to be around.
If you are indeed someone who is forever invited to stay with others it's most likely because your host enjoys you. Odds are you already know how to ingratiate yourself by truly being respectful and considerate of your host.
Here the top five ways to be a great guest:
First be grateful. One of the easiest ways to do this is to smile. And smile often. Also, upon arrival make sure your host knows how happy you are to be there and how grateful you are that they have taken time out of their already busy schedule (because we are all busy, after all) to be so welcoming. You want to compliment your hosts on their home, their consideration and everything else they do for you. That is what grateful is. It's not judging. It's not making sure they know what you are expecting of them. It's not talking about the last home you stayed at and how they hosts treated you. It's letting your present hosts know how happy your are to be in their home with them.
Next you want to be helpful. Make sure the bathroom you are using is tidy and picked up. Towels don't go on the floor and personal items stay in a container - preferably under the sink if there is room. If there's no room to store your personal items in the bathroom keep them in the room you are staying in - not on the bathroom counter. The same applies to the bedroom. If you don't make your bed at home, be sure to make it at your hosts place. Keep your items in your suitcase and/or in the closet. The kitchen is another area where you need to pick up after yourself. And if you want to be a truly desired guest, you will want to clean up after your host too. Unload the dishwasher or at least load it. Make the coffee. Offer to make a meal or two also.
As you are a guest in their home, you are a guest in the surrounding area also. Even so, don't expect your hosts to be a tour guide. While they may want to show you around and see some sites, presupposing that they will continue to take you around day after day is unrealistic. You need to map out a plan for what you want to see and how you are going to see it. This may involve renting a car and making some decisions without their hand in the matter. Although they would probably welcome the opportunity to assist in what to see, when to see it and how to get there, don't expect them to play concierge.
While you want to allow your hosts some downtime and not be your tour guide 24/7, you also don't want them to feel your hotel. If you are gone first thing in the morning and returning after 10:00 at night. A phone call to let them know is most considerate. You also might want to invite them to join you at some point. Don't expect them too - especially if you are on vacation and they are continuing to work during the day - but do ask them if they want to meet you for dinner when their workday is over. You can also suggest that you pick up some takeout to either bring back to the house at the end of the workday or that they meet you for a picnic.
Finally, don't overstay. There's a saying, "houseguests are like fish. After three days they begin to stink." While staying more than three days can be acceptable if you arrange it ahead of time, you do need to make sure that your presence is not disrupting their home. Be considerate. Don't parade around in your underwear. Don't drink all their booze and eat all their food. Do go shopping. If you are borrowing their car make sure to fill it up with gas and get it washed.
While this is not a complete list of considerations for staying on at a friend's or relative's. This is a great start to being a considerate guest who will be asked to return in the future. Happy Holidays.